Navarre residents got a chance to talk one-on-one with law enforcement Oct. 3 as part of Coffee with a Cop. Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office leaders unplugged for a couple hours and set up in a public place to make themselves accessible for a chat.
In Navarre, Alphy’s Catfish House hosted the event.
Coffee with a Cop is a national program, and Major Shane Tucker said that Sheriff Bob Johnson suggested they begin the program in Santa Rosa County. Four locations were set up for the event.
Public Information Officer Sgt. Rich Aloy said the event was aimed at building community relations.
“It was designed for communities that don’t have good relationships with law enforcement. We don’t have that issue here, so this was more of an outreach to say ‘hey, come by and just talk to us,’” he said. “The great thing is there is no agenda, just sit down and talk about whatever concerns you.”
According to the program’s website “the Hawthorne Police Department hosted the first Coffee with a Cop event in March 2011 in an effort to better understand the needs and concerns of community residents.”
Tucker said he was glad to be a part of it.
“Personally, I think it is a worthwhile endeavor. A lot of times when we have interaction with the community it is very professional, very business,” Tucker said. “People don’t necessarily get to sit down and talk to us on a personal level.”
A handful of community members stopped by to chat with the officers throughout the morning. The majority of individuals brought up traffic.
“The biggest concern brought to our attention was traffic. It is pretty obvious that there is a lot of congestion along 98. The speeding was a big concern,” Tucker said.
As the officers sipped their coffee, local Gene Weaver stopped by the table to chat. Weaver told the officers about his service not only during the Vietnam War but also in fire protection when he returned to the area.
He told the officers they were doing a great job.
Lt. Mark James is the new District 2 lieutenant covering the Navarre area. James said he was glad to be part of the event.
“Most of the time people will approach us while we are having lunch no matter where we are at. ‘hey, I have a question’ while we are eating,” James said. “This gives them an opportunity to do the same thing but we are not wasting our breakfast.”